The Appended Images of the Eadwine Psalter: A New Appraisal of Their Commemorative, Documentary, and Institutional Functions Open Access

Baker, Katherine S. (2008)

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Produced in the scriptorium at Christ Church Priory, Canterbury and now preserved at Trinity College, Cambridge, the Eadwine Psalter (c. 1155-60/c. 1170) contains two images that today rival the book itself in fame and historical importance. The first image, entitled the Scribal Painting (fol. 283v), shows the full-page figural portrait of the monk, Eadwine, who declares Ego scriptorum princeps ("I am the prince of scribes") in the painting's inscription. The second image, commonly known as the Waterworks Drawing (fols. 284v-285r), depicts not only the highly-sophisticated hydraulic system installed at Canterbury by the 1160s but also the monastic buildings it serviced in the cathedral precinct at the time. For unknown reasons, these two images were added to unused parchment at the back of the Psalter a decade or more after it was bound, and codicological investigations have revealed the leaves they now occupy required considerable repair before.

In this thesis, I advance the notion that the Psalter's appended images may be profitably studied using a shared interpretive framework. Applying critical insights from the recent scholarship on medieval portraiture to their analysis, I demonstrate that these images operated as a pair to both shape and transmit communal monastic identity, and to authenticate the book and its meanings much like medieval "portrait" seals fixed to an official document. Moreover, I show that these images effectively shed light on the role of the Psalter itself in the period of their creation -- a role which addressed specific concerns of the Christ Church community relating to archiepiscopal succession and to the priory's right to control its own future.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
I. Dating, Patronage, and Function
a. The Psalter Proper
b. The Appended Images
II. Representing the Christ Church Corporate Body
III. The Eadwine Psalter c. 1170
IV. Conclusion

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